While 205 Live proves to fans every week that the cruiserweight wrestlers are some of the most exciting in WWE today, this is nothing new. Before the 205 Live era, WWE had both cruiserweights and light heavyweights always putting on great matches, Impact Wrestling had their amazing X-Division, and ECW is actually who really shone a light on the little guys.
However, in the '90s, there was not a better cruiserweight division anywhere than in WCW. While the company stole most of their cruiserweight division from ECW and Mexico, they showcased them every week on WCW Monday Nitro, and these guys turned in matches that made the heavyweights look like they were moving in slow motion. Here is a look at the 10 best WCW cruiserweight champions of all-time.
10 BRIAN PILLMAN
Before the cruiserweights began to rule WCW on Monday Nitro, they started the division up in 1991 and held a tournament to determine the inaugural champion. The finals saw Richard Morton, who was the former Ricky Morton from the Rock 'N Roll Express battle Flyin' Brian Pillman.
It was Pillman, who was one of the most exciting high flyers in WCW at the time, winning the match and the title. Remember, before Pillman was the loose cannon, he was a massively over babyface and even faced Jushin Thunder Liger on the first WCW Monday Nitro ever. Pillman held the title twice for a total of 172 days, and the title was retired five months after he lost it the last time.
9 EDDIE GUERRERO
Eddie Guerrero was part of the WCW cruiserweight division before his talent and overall charisma forced the company to move him up the roster and put him into feuds with names like Nature Boy Ric Flair and the United States Championship consideration. However, in the cruiserweight division, Guerrero held the title twice for 91 days.
His matches were against mostly behind-the-scenes friends, and he was a great champion during his run. He beat Chris Jericho at Fall Brawl 1997, lost to Rey Mysterio at Halloween Havoc that same year, won it back on WCW Monday Nitro 15 days later, and then finally lost it to Ultimo Dragon.
8 JUVENTUD GUERRERA
Juventud Guerrera was a massive star in Mexico that came to WCW and could have been bigger if not for attitude problems. His most entertaining time was when he was battling for the Cruiserweight Championship and was mocking the Rock, talking about Juvi Juice, and being just a charismatic jerk.
He won his first Cruiserweight title in 1998 by beating Ultimo Dragon, and while this first reign was only 10 days, it was only the start. Later that year, he defeated Chris Jericho for the title, and then lost to and then beat Billy Kidman for his third reign. In 2005, he had two more reigns when the title moved to WWE for a combined 113 days.
When the nWo invaded WCW, they had three huge stars -- all big men -- in Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. After that, Ted DiBiase joined in a managerial role, and then The Giant (Big Show) joined. After that, Sean Waltman was the sixth member and took the name Syxx as a result. It gave the nWo their first smaller wrestler, and he set his sights on the cruiserweight division.
Syxx ended up winning the WCW Cruiserweight title from Dean Malenko to finally end his reign on top of that division and went on to hold the title for 124 days. That was the longest title reign of any wrestler in the WCW version of the title. As X-Pac in WWE, he then beat Billy Kidman in 2001 to win the title for a second time.
6 DEAN MALENKO
In 1996, WCW brought back the Cruiserweight Championship, but the title was decided in a tournament in New Japan Pro Wrestling, with Shinjiro Otani winning it. He held it for 43 days and then lost it to Dean Malenko on an episode of WCW Worldwide. He was very different from other cruiserweights with his technical style, and that helped him stand out.
Malenko ended up holding the title four times for a total of 188 days. On top of beating Otani, he also beat Rey Mysterio, Ultimo Dragon, and Chris Jericho to win the title. Malenko's longest reign was only 67 days, but he was the centerpiece of the division for almost a year.
5 CHRIS JERICHO
Before Chris Jericho went to WWE and became the first ever unified world heavyweight champion by beating both Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock in the same night, he was a cruiserweight wrestler in WCW. He was also extremely entertaining in the role and showed early glimpses at what made him a star in WWE.
He beat Syxx for his first title win in 1997, and he did it at a house show of all places. He lost the title to Alex Wright and then won it back, his first two reigns a combined 63 days. However, the highlight came in 1998 when he beat Rey Mysterio and held the title for 113 days, before losing it to Dean Malenko and then winning it back for another 55-day run. Combined, it was four reigns for 231 days.
4 SHANE HELMS
Shane Helms holds the distinction of being the last man to hold the WCW Cruiserweight Championship before WWE purchased the company. He won the title from Chavo Guerrero at Greed in March 2001 and then held the title for 107 days before losing it on WWE television to Billy Kidman.
Shane Helms then underwent a gimmick change in WWE and turned into a superhero known as Hurricane Helms. He then got a reign in that role for 40 days in 2002 before getting the third run under a new gimmick as Gregory Helms in 2006 for 385 days -- the longest in the title's history. Helms is a three-time champion for a record 532 days.
3 CHAVO GUERRERO JR.
Chavo Guerrero spent much of his WCW career as nothing more than an afterthought compared to his uncle, Eddie Guerrero. However, after Eddie left for WWE, Chavo got a few small pushes and his most significant moment came in 2000 when he won the WCW Cruiserweight title. He won it as Lieutenant Loco of the Misfits and held it for 55 days.
Later that year, he won it again and held it for an impressive 104 days. He finally lost it at the PPV called Greed to Shane Helms. When the title moved to WWE, Chavo added four more title reigns on and finished with 437 days as champion, the third most of anyone to hold the title.
2 BILLY KIDMAN
Billy Kidman had an interesting career. For much of his WCW career, he was an undercard guy who got some wins here and there but never did too much. However, Kidman did get a chance in 1998 when he was placed in the cruiserweight division. He beat Juventud Guerrera for the title and held it for 63 days. He then lost it to Juvi and won it back for a longer 113-day run.
A third reign only lasted for one day in 2000. When WWE purchased WCW, Kidman won the title on its first title change on SmackDown Live. He would win it four total times in WWE and added to his WCW reigns, and he had seven total for an impressive 328 total days as champion.
1 REY MYSTERIO JR.
Rey Mysterio was the third champion when WCW brought back the Cruiserweight title, winning it from Dean Malenko on an episode of WCW Monday Nitro. Unlike Malenko, Mysterio was a high flyer and a great Lucha-styled wrestler, an exciting addition to the cruiserweight division.
He ended up holding the title for 11 days on his first reign. He then won the title seven more times -- although two of those reigns were after WWE purchased WCW and kept the title. His combined reigns were 484 days, and only Shane Helms held the title longer. In just WCW, Rey beat Eddie Guerrero, Juventud Guerrera, Billy Kidman, and Psychosis for the title.